Posts Tagged With: Christ

Mercy


Shandrivs’kyi Falls Photo by Vovavovk1

Good morning, friend,

Today begins a new week. A fresh week, a fresh start. What are you thankful for this day? How do you begin this day today?

I am so very thankful today to have caught a Matt Redman concert on KLOVE last night as I drove to pick up my son from youth group.

I am thankful for Upwards basketball, HRK basketball and the impact both are having in my children’s lives this year. What a gift.

I am thankful for our church, to see our pews filling, see our children worshipping, my eldest up with me playing his guitar…we, as a church, voted to financially support TWR missionaries Mike and Wendy Lambert yesterday. If you haven’t had a chance to see the work that Mike will be doing in Guam for TWR, please check out his website. The need for Mike is critical. Right now, they have only one engineer working on the equipment that serves a huge audience of nearly two billion people and to work effectively the station should have three technicians. Please be praying.

What I am chewing on today…

a song that I heard for the first time last night by Matt Redman…Mercy. You know I have to share it with you. :)

May I never lose the wonder of Your mercy…

Do I ever just pause and wonder at the amazing depth and beauty of His mercy?

11 As high as the ·sky [heaven] is above the earth,
so great is his ·love [loyalty] for those who ·respect [fear] him [Prov. 1:7].
12 He has taken our ·sins [transgressions] away from us
as far as the east is from west.
13 The Lord has ·mercy [compassion] on those who ·respect [fear] him [Prov. 1:7],
as a father has ·mercy [compassion] on his children. Psalm 103 EXB

What sparks my interest, what motivates me, what keeps me studying are phrases such as we find in these verses in Psalms.

As high as the sky is above the earth (picture that with me) so great is His love…now, I think, we like to stop there. We like to stop with His love. So great is His love. And it is great. It is magnificent. And there are A LOT of verses about His love. Last night, Chuck Swindoll was talking about the reality of hell. Can I just be honest with you and tell you how badly, in the quiet of my house, I wanted to turn off the preacher and turn on worship music? It’s uncomfortable. I don’t like thinking about it. However, if we are going to think about His great love, we also have to think about sharing that great love with those that need to hear it most desperately?

So great is His love for those who respect and fear Him…

7 The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline. Proverbs 1:7 AMP

So, reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord, starting with an awe of Him, going back to the song that started this whole journey of mercy for me.

I will kneel in the dust, at the foot of the cross, where mercy paid for me.http://www.songlyrics.com/matt-redman/mercy-lyrics/

That’s the start, that’s the beginning, the best part of this knowledge of the Lord that He loves. And the blessings just flow, my friends, we give Him this reverent fear. That’s where we need to be, covered in His dust. Covered in His mercy.

As you begin this day, His compassion, His mercy covers you. Now, who can you show compassion to this day? Who can see the grace and love of the Lord Jesus this day?

Pray on..pray on.

 

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A new day


Good morning, friend,

Snow-covered field Photo by Jimfbleak

Seek (inquire for and require) good and not evil that you may live, and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate the evil and love the good and establish justice in the [court of the city’s] gate. It may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph [the northern kingdom]. Amos 5:14-15AMP

Sometimes, I wish I could get a landscape view of my life while I’m in the midst of all the stress. That I could just stop, put a pause button on the chaos, confusion, fighting, whatever, step back and take a breath and wonder, what am I after now? As I struggle with a child, separate this squabble or that testy remark , help another with this problem, review  his Awana sections, or have a child speak back to me in frustration…at that moment, that is the moment for me, what I do in that moment, I believe, can bring honor to the Lord or well, not. This is my mission field. These four lives, these are my field. Do I get a do over button? Nope. Is there grace? Yes.

I have found in my readings these past few days that it isn’t so much about doing better, being better, looking better. No, that’s not it. We are looking to a heavenly goal. Making our Father God in Heaven proud. Keeping our minds focused on the gift of grace. Preparing our minds for action. How do I do this in the middle of stressful situations? I go back to what I know to be true.

I am thankful. I am thankful today for God’s continuing grace that brought me through the day. It was not a perfect day, yet we accomplished our goals.

I am thankful for the gift of clean drawers in my kitchen. Not sure how long it will last, but I sure do appreciate opening a drawer and finding what I need.

I am thankful for heat. As we launch into day three of being in the house, I’m very grateful to be warm.

We stay thankful. No matter what.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!

5 Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is [a]coming soon]. Philippians 4 AMP

We remain focused, prepared for action.

A Call to Holy Living ] ·So [Therefore; For this reason] ·prepare your minds for service [prepare your minds for action; or, be alert; L gird the loins of your mind]and ·have self-control [be disciplined]. ·All your hope should be for [Focus all your hope on] the gift of grace that will be ·yours [brought/given to you] ·when Jesus Christ is shown to you [L at the revelation of Jesus Christ].1 Peter 1:13EXB

We live in the light.

Living in the Light ] You are God’s children whom he loves, so ·try to be like [imitate] him. ·Live a life of love [Walk in love] just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a ·sweet-smelling [fragrant] offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2EXB

And I don’t know about you, but I sing. My family is a bunch of singers. We may sing off-key, but we love to sing and we love to listen to music. The song that I shared with you yesterday rang through our house several times. Silly songs. Songs that bring joy and laughter and reminders of the One who is in control and who loves us.

The most powerful lesson I am learning is the beautiful gift of forgiveness. Listening to the DAB last night (1/7/2014), Brian Hardin was speaking of how forgiveness on our part isn’t a choice, it’s a requirement. We fight the act of forgiving others. We hold back, we could never forgive this or that. Yet, what we fail to see, what we fail to realize as we hope to keep the one who hurt us in chains with bitterness and anger, the one who is in chains is, well, us. Gulp.

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6 NKJV

That may sound harsh. Yet, freedom awaits us when forgiveness flows. The Father knows this lesson all to well. How do I teach that to my boys who hurt one another so often? How do I help them understand the gift of friendship and brotherhood? Yes, well, I am still learning these lessons as their mother so it is a flowing lesson, isn’t it?

So, many things to ponder this day, as I begin anew. Start again. Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

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Whac-A-Mole


I start my morning with a slurper, well, two actually. One is already on his way to work. The other is memorizing the Foxtrot comic book resting on his lap. I begin to have a cognizant thought and slurp! And then, I am reminded of the many pages I follow on Facebook. The Mamas chronicling the one year anniversaries of losing their babies to cancer, fighting to keep their children from the grip of cancer or discovering their fight is just beginning. Slurp away, kid.

Sunset in Belo Horizonte Photo by Higor Douglas

Life is like that, isn’t it? We were meant to live this life in the present. To enjoy this gift, to peer out of the windows, see the sun shining through the trees and rather than just smile and close the blinds, run out with the dog and kids and join the chorus. Of course, it would require that my other children arise and join the rest of the open-eyed population.  I’ve been spending way too much time in my head lately, in regret, in the past, what I should have said. How I should have been.  And guess what I’ve done? I’ve smiled at the joy set before me (my family), closed the curtain and listened rather than run out and joined the chorus.

How often do we close the curtains in our own lives? How often have we briefly seen whatever the joy was the Lord set before us (the beauty of the day, the family, the friendships, life, whatever) and chosen to keep our focus solely on the stress? Has your neighbor’s dog bark finally crossed that line? Do your church’s music choices set your teeth on edge? Are there people at your church that you wish would worship elsewhere so you could finally have the church you want? Are your children not doing everything according to your gospel? Shall I continue? Did I mention yours? Fill in the blank ________. You tell the Lord. But I’m going to tell you, here’s what He says in Philippians 4:

4-5 Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you are on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

All those questions, those curtains they close the door on celebration. Celebration is open the doors wide.  Open your heart wide. As I type that, it’s hard. Down and dirty hard to do this with people…especially when people are not like you. When people don’t understand you and you don’t understand them, we forget. We forget that we aren’t here to be perfect, we are here to work together, harmoniously. Our love for one another doesn’t have to be constant time and attention but it can be a touch on the shoulder, a smile that reaches your eyes, knowing that love comes from the Father in heaven. You can’t love the difficult people on your own. You love them from Him. He is your love and His love pours through.

Romans 12: 11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

How do we burn out? How do we keep fueled and aflame? Most certainly not by working on our own strength or love. It all starts with Him. All of it. It stops when we… back to Philippians 4:

6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

We have got to get to this point where we trigger an automatic response to worry. Right away. The worries begin and bam! we begin to pray. I’m not kidding. I keep thinking of that Whac-A-Mole game, right? You know the game? Sometimes, I feel like that’s my worries in my life. One crops up, bam! Another, bam! A child has no problem whacking a mole with all their might, why do I allow my “moles” to just hang out above the surface, grabbing some rays, checking out the hot moles in the other holes…You get my point.

What if today, I turn my back on the whole stupid game? And I let petitions and praises shape these moles into prayers and I just give ‘em over to my God? Then as I do this, I will begin to feel and know I am complete in Him, I will and am remembering that all comes together for good!

It’s wonderful, isn’t it, when Christ displaces worry in the center of our life?

Well, you’ll have to excuse me, I have a slurper and dog to take on a walk.

Pray on. Pray on.

Thankfuls

I’m thankful for the gorgeous sunrise.

I’m thankful for my Kimberlee who checks on me every morning to make sure I’m having my QT. I love you, girl.

I’m thankful for a new alarm clock that didn’t work today and we slept in.

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Believer


Island Archway on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Good morning, beloved,

I think my favorite worship/praise/hymns have to be anthems. The songs begin slow, quietly and continue to build and with great feeling and emotion, crescendo. One hymn we taught our children early on, Battle Hymn of the Republic, rings in my ears.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on. Cyber Hymnal

Anthem: a rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body, or cause. Hmmm, I need to be roused. To be lifted up by the truth, to remember this life, this time is so brief. All of it is a breath…I breathe in and realize I have stopped folding Sparky uniforms. I only have TNT jerseys (and up) to fold and give to children. This day, this family, this is my ministry. This is my day.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But[b] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2 ESVUK

Rise up, friends. What is before you? Where is your allegiance? His mercy reaches out. His great love calls to you, to me. You were dead. I was dead. Grace reached out. As I type I’m listening to Passion belt out a song. I am inspired, encouraged and moved to trust more, hope more..

Our minds are truly a battlefield. I sing to bring the truth to my mind. I sing to fight feelings. To fight fear, to remember, to state CLEARLY that the Lord Our God is faithful. Never failing. How can I doubt this? How can I wonder at what He is doing? Why do I forget to give thanks?

By grace we have been saved…

Grace…it’s all about Him. It’s not anything we have done. It’s all about what HE has done, is doing, and will continue to do. Save us.

So this day, as you walk through your day, as I walk through my day, let’s remember, it’s grace.

Once and for all times. We believe our God is Jesus. We believe He is Lord. We believe HE has saved us.

The power in His name..

 

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Promises


La Plana Novella (Olivella) Photo by DagafeSQVT

Good morning, beloved,

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe,according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1 ESV

I think the first thing I want to do with this passage highlight every instance of you or your and see where that takes me.

Paul is praying for the Ephesians. He has reports of:

  • their faith in the Lord Jesus
  • their love toward all the saints

What is it to you to hear someone is praying for you? For me, it is encouragement.  Paul does not cease to give thanks for them or stop his prayers for them. Then he begins to pray for them. They believe in the Lord Jesus. He prays for revelation.  Next, let’s take what we learn by highlighting all instances of God.

  • God of our Lord Jesus Christ-Paul is stating without a doubt that Jesus was sent from God. Jesus was not a false prophet or liar. He was of God. He is God.
  • Father of glory (doxa) “…in Eph 1:17, “the Father of glory” describes Him as the source from whom all Divine splendor and perfection proceed in their manifestation, and to whom they belong..” (Greek Lexicon, blb.org)
  • God gives us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom
  • God gives us revelation, knowledge of Him
  • Our God calls us to hope

Hope. Hope is a very crucial word for me. I find myself again and again and again putting my hope in my circumstances, or my bank account numbers, or my relationships. If one area of my life (that I can see), is not puttering along as I would expect, I begin to get teary, worried. Yuck. My eyes have been taken from the God of glory, the source of Divine splendor, perfection and I’ve climbed into the mud pit and centered my gaze on the mud. Blech.

He calls us to HOPE!

We have riches, friends! We have His glory in us. A glorious. GLORIOUS inheritance. Back to what we learn about God. :)

  • immeasurable greatness of [God's] power toward us who believe.. oh God, help me in unbelief! Are there ever days when you spend more time as doubting Thomas? Immeasurable…I can’t measure His power. I can’t grasp it. So what am I doing doubting?

  • according to the working of [God's] great might-“In Eph 1:19 and Eph 6:10, it is said of the strength of God bestowed upon believers, the phrase “the power of His might” indicating strength afforded by power. ” (Greek Lexicon)
  • [God's] great might that He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead..so much to ponder here.
  • seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places
  • far above all rule and authority and power and dominion

This …far above all rule, authority, power, dominion…just ponder that for a moment. What we see in front of us is a chain of command, right? Think of authority in your life. Whose has authority in your life? Maybe your parents (if you are young), the police (you see those flashing lights and you pull over), the judge presiding over your case, the senate, the house of reps, the President. Kings, queens, rulers, principalities have nothing on the God of glory. The God of immeasurable power makes it so that I never, ever need to be afraid. He’s above it all. Nothing escapes His rule and dominion.

It’s more than that. He holds this world together. I don’t want to oversimplify God. I don’t want to put Him in my box. Mold Him how I want Him to look. I woke up this morning thinking about my day. Thinking about what went right and why. It isn’t a formula. If I do this and that, then bam, it’s amazing, folks, blessing! However, understanding the incredible depth of blessing of keeping His word close, In repeating it over and over. In the music, proclaiming His power, His dominion over the world! In pausing before I speak, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide.

It’s His name..above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. ooooh! This is so cool! Let me give you some cross refs:

Matthew 28: 19 [e]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you [f]always, even to the end of the age.”

Acts 4: 11 [j]He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (BTW, catch there is salvation IN NO ONE ELSE. Just Jesus. All you need is Jesus to be saved)

Revelation 19:12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

He is above every name. He is. What more needs to be said? Think the next time you are about to speak His Name. Pause. Reflect. His Name. Remember this day, you are the child of the one true King. Keep His word close to you today. Keep the music playing. Worship Him as you breath.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

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Casting aside


Panorama of Lake Bled Photo by Mihael Grmek

Good morning, beloved,

I walked out this morning and saw the stars. I saw the moon. It was beautiful. The earth is filled with His glory. His majesty. It is good to begin a day with praise. It is good to give thanks. To start my day soaked in the Word, to remember that there are no chains on me. No chains on YOU. Why?

I’m here to tell you, your heart can be free. Today, as I face my own flesh, I do not face that battle alone. I can remember that: In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly ·world [realms; places]. (Ephesians 1:3). We bless the Father by blessing His son, Jesus. We cry out to Him knowing everything we need can be found in Him. Do you know that this verse (v.3) repeats some form of blessing three times? We bless Him. He has blessed us. We receive every spiritual blessing.

 …of the place where Christ “sitteth at the right hand of God” (i.e., in a position of Divine authority), Eph 1:20; and of the present position of believers in relationship to Christ, Eph 2:6; where they possess “every spiritual blessing,” Eph 1:3; Greek Lexicon

Christ now sits in the position of Divine Authority. Where do we stand with Jesus? What are some of the spiritual blessings?

  • Chosen, holy people without blame
  • His kids
  • grace
  • set free, forgiven, redeemed
  • there is a plan (in this hectic, crazy world that FEELS as though it is spinning out of control, we can bank on the truth that..there is a plan

I remember as a child, waiting to be picked for a team by the captain. Standing there with the rest of the kids, hoping, I would be next. My breath would be shallow. I would be close to kneeling on the ground begging, not to be last.  Then when I was picked, a quick smile, a deep breath and then to watch the rest of the suffering souls.. Let me just say, that will never happen with Jesus. God the Father has chosen you. No need for worry. No need for shallow breathing. You and I are His kids!

I have written about grace. There is so much more to learn about grace. We have been given so much grace! If we have been given so much grace, how is it that we cannot extend it to others?

We have been wronged by a friend. Or leader. Or spouse. Or child. The pain we feel is extreme and we feel the wrong deeply. Perhaps even now, the person’s face is looming in your mind. It keeps you awake at night. You rehearse how you will behave and talk in the future conversation.

5 But he was wounded for ·the wrong we did [T our transgressions];
he was crushed for ·the evil we did [T our iniquities].
The punishment, which ·made us well [brought us wholeness/peace], was given to him,
and we are healed because of his ·wounds [lacerations;T stripes; 1 Pet. 2:24].
6 We all have ·wandered away [T gone astray] like sheep;
each of us has gone his own way [1 Pet. 2:25]. Isaiah 53 EXB

How strange. Isaiah doesn’t mention our neighbor’s sins. He declares our sin. Jesus was crushed. He was punished. Only through His wounds can we be healed, we have all wandered away. Not just our “sinful” neighbor, us. I bet you could make a list of all the sins and wrongs your neighbor has done. I bet you could rehash every last one. Me too.

7b He was like a lamb being led to be ·killed [slaughtered].
He was quiet, as a sheep is quiet ·while its wool is being cut[L before its shearers; Acts 8:32Matt. 26:63Mark 14:61John 19:91 Pet. 2:23];
he never opened his mouth. Isaiah 53 EXB

Are we quiet when we are sinned against? Maybe we don’t say anything to anyone, maybe we do, but our thoughts betray us.  Jesus’ thoughts NEVER betrayed Him.

14 [L Therefore] Since we have a great high priest [2:17–18], Jesus the Son of God, who has ·gone into [ascended to; or passed through]·heaven [or the heavens], let us hold ·on [firmly] to ·the faith we have[L the confession/profession; C of our faith]. 15 ·For our high priest is able[L For we do not have a high priest who is unable] to ·understand[sympathize with] our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. 16 Let us, then, ·feel very sure that we can come before [L confidently approach] God’s throne ·where there is grace[L of grace; C as opposed to a throne of judgment and condemnation]. There we can receive mercy and ·grace [L find grace] to help us ·when we need it [L at the right time]. Hebrews 4 EXB

He knows. His grace is enough for all. We need Jesus. We need Him, who sits in a position of authority, to intercede on our behalf, to understand our weaknesses. We need Him. We have sinned just as much as our neighbor, if not more. God’s grace and mercy is available to you, first. Let us run our race…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of ·people whose lives tell us what faith means [L witnesses], let us run the race that is before us ·and never give up [with endurance/perseverance]. ·We should [Let us] ·remove from our lives [get rid of; cast aside] anything that ·would get in the way [impedes/hinders us] and the sin that so easily ·holds us back [entangles/clings to us]. 2 Let us ·look only to [keep our eyes on] Jesus, the ·One who began [Pioneer/Founder of; or Leader/Prince of] our faith and who ·makes it perfect [completes it]. He ·suffered death on [L endured] the cross, ·accepting the shame as if it were nothing [L disregarding/despising the shame] because of the joy that ·God put before [lay ahead for] him. And now he is sitting at the right ·side [L hand] of God’s throne [1:313Ps. 110:1]. Hebrews 12 EXB

Cast aside anything that impedes or hinders, the sin that so easily entangles for there is grace. Keep our eyes on Jesus. He has a plan. It is a most excellent plan.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

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Abounding


Dushan Tappe, one of the suburbs of Tehran, (1899) Author: Kamal-ol-Molk.

Good morning, beloved,

Today, it’s grace that astounds me. I throw words around this blog. I write out struggles I have in my life. Rather, I hint around the roller coasters that abound in my life. My stomach settles from one coaster and life pushes me on another one. What astounds me: every time I look up, look over, look behind Jesus is there. I’m wearing my seat harness, seat belt strapped in for the ride of my life, white knuckled, and Jesus is there. For the very top of the ride, to the very lowest point, nothing can ever separate us.

As we dive back into school (the metaphors are astounding as well, yes?) , I am holding desperately to His hands. Asking God to give me, please give me, the patience, the wisdom, the sight to teach my kids. To teach them about the Word, to remember that when I start our day with the teaching of His Word, our day (while never perfect) can feel the palpable presence of His Spirit. This year I want to dedicate to teaching them about the Kings and the Prophets.

So it’s good with all my plans and ideas to remember this: I. am. loved. Period.

 Because of his love [C this phrase may go with the previous sentence], God ·had already decided to make us his own children [L predestined us for adoption] through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him, 6 and it brings praise to God because of his ·wonderful[glorious] grace. God gave that grace to us freely, in ·Christ, the One he loves [L the Beloved]. 7 In ·Christ [L him] we ·are set free [have been redeemed/purchased] by ·the blood of his death [L his blood; C blood signifies his sacrificial death], and so we have forgiveness of sins. ·How rich is [or This redemption reveals the wealth of; L …according to the riches of] God’s grace, 8 which he has ·given to us so fully and freely [lavished on us]. Ephesians 1 EXB

Love. We are His kids. Grace. Free. Set free. Redeemed. Forgiven.

I take my job as teacher very seriously. I also want my house to look perfect. Ah, yes, there’s the rub. Teaching four kids at home, six people and a dog, busy schedules, the house takes a back seat. In my mind though, it brings me peace to have my house sparkling clean. So when I look around while working with the kids, I get antsy to clean up. I look around, see the piles and wonder who made that mess or that one. Frustration abounds.

I am loved.

I am set free.

So, my expectations the house being perfect, fretting about the little things does not teach my children the truths I am stating here. If I sing, Your Love Never Fails and yet, there is no hope in my speech. No laughter. No joy. What am I truly teaching? When one of my sweets goes about cleaning my Blendtec and hot soapy water shoots up like a geyser, when same child tries to make coffee and breaks the carafe, when the girl pierces her dolls ears, when their rooms look like hurricanes abound (I’m loving that word today), when laundry piles, when dishes, when books, when papers…

I am loved.

I am set free.

I can laugh. I can give grace which so freely is bestowed upon me. No chains on me. No chains on my beloveds.

You are loved.

You can be free.

Run after Him today!

Thankfuls

288. For a book that reminds me to pause, lie down and look up at the stars.

289. For another year to teach and be with my kids.

290. For the youth ministry of Village Church of Gurnee.

Pray on. Pray on. Forgiven.

 

Categories: Cara thoughts..., http://www.hellomornings.org/, New Testament, Pictures from commons... | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Thunderstorm near Pritzerbe (Germany). Photo by Mathias Krumbholz

Good morning, friend!

I want to a couple of resources that have helped me over the past night. Nighttime seems to have become a time, when quiet, where my thoughts assail me. Normally, I have listened to Focus on the Family or FamilyLife Today, but these were not available. (Don’t ask, new phone) However frustrating my phone can be, I have discovered the gift of podcasts.  I tell you what, anyone can host a podcast. Not only that, I am surprised and saddened by what gets filed under Religion and Spirituality! I think my dog might be eligible for a podcast. Sheesh.

I digress. Last night, I came to find the Daily Audio Bible. Lovely. Just lovely. Listening to different sections of the Bible (with the goal of reading the Bible in a year)! The man who reads has a gift. The other gift that I has been such blessing to me is Pandora. This morning, as I began my study, the first song to play was…

Sometimes, do you ever wonder if you will ever learn the lesson that God has taught you your whole life? Yeah, me neither.

I love the Lord,
because he ·listens to my prayers for help [L hears/or heard my voice, my prayer of supplication].
2 He ·paid attention [L extends his ear] to me,
so I will ·call to him for help [call; pray] ·as long as I live [L in my days].
3 The ·ropes [cords] of death ·bound [encompass] me,
and the ·fear [hardship; distress] of ·the grave [L Sheol; C the grave or the underworld] ·took hold of [reached; found] me.
I ·was troubled and sad [L found distress and sadness]. Psalm 116 EXB

Hear me, friends. We need to stop putting our thoughts as truth. We need to keep the promises of God in the forefront of our minds. Do you love Him? Do you remember at all times He hears your cries for help? I am reminded of a lesson the Lord taught me early in my time as a Mama. The Lord has been with me through it all. There is not one person on this earth that has been with me my whole life. Think about this for a second. Family, friends, co-workers all have been with me some of the time but the Lord has always been with me. All the stages of my life…daughter, student, wife, mother, friend, worker…He has walked through every bit of it. The same is true for you.

14 So [C Paul begins again the prayer he started in v. 1] I ·bow in prayer [kneel] before the Father 15 from whom ·every [or the whole] ·family [C a play on words, since the words “father” and “family” are related] in heaven and on earth gets its true name. 16 I ask the Father ·in his great glory [or from the treasures of his glory; or out of his glorious riches] to give you the power to be strong ·inwardly[L in the inner person] through his Spirit. 17 I pray that Christ will ·live [make his home] in your hearts by faith and that your life will be ·strong in love and be built on love [L rooted and grounded in love].18 And I pray that you and all ·God’s holy people [T the saints] will have the power to ·understand[comprehend; grasp] the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. 19 Christ’s love is ·greater than anyone can ever know [beyond comprehension/knowledge], but I pray that you will be able to know that love. ·Then [L …so that] you can be filled with the fullness of God.

 I ·bow in prayer [kneel] before the Father…

54 Solomon prayed this prayer and ·plea [request; supplication] to the Lord, kneeling in front of the altar with his ·arms raised [hands spread] toward heaven. When he finished praying, he got up. 1 Kings 8 EXB

6 Come, let’s ·worship him [bow down] and ·bow down [bend the knee].
Let’s kneel before the Lord who made us,
7 because he is our God
and we are the people ·he takes care of [L of his pasture],
the sheep ·that he tends [L of his hand; 74:179:13100:3John 10:11–14]. Psalm 95 EXB

… from whom ·every [or the whole] ·family [C a play on words, since the words “father” and “family” are related] in heaven and on earth gets its true name. 

9 So God ·raised [exalted] him to the highest place.
God ·made his name [or gave him the name] ·greater than [far above] every other name
10 so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus
everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
11 And ·everyone [L every tongue] will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
and bring glory to God the Father. Philippians 2 EXB

20 God ·used [exerted] to raise Christ from the dead and ·put [L seat] him at his right ·side [L hand; Ps. 110:1Acts 2:34] in the heavenly ·world [realm; places]. 21 God has put Christ ·over [far above] all rulers, authorities, powers, and ·kings [lords; dominion], and every other ·title given [L name that is named] not only in this ·world [age] but also in the ·next [coming one]. Ephesians 1 EXB

I ask the Father ·in his great glory [or from the treasures of his glory; or out of his glorious riches]…

In ·Christ [L him] we ·are set free [have been redeemed/purchased] by ·the blood of his death [L his blood; C blood signifies his sacrificial death], and so we have forgiveness of sins. ·How rich is [or This redemption reveals the wealth of; L …according to the riches of] God’s grace…Ephesians 1 EXB

23 He waited with patience so that he could make known ·his rich glory [the riches of his glory] to the ·people who receive his [L vessels/objects of] mercy. He has prepared these people ·to have his glory[to experience his glory; L for glory], 24 and we are those people whom God called. He called us not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles.  Romans 9 EXB

…to give you the power to be strong ·inwardly[L in the inner person] through his Spirit. 

28 ·Surely you [L Do you not…?] know.
·Surely you have [L Have you not…?] heard.
The Lord is the ·God who lives forever [everlasting God],
who created ·all [L the ends of] the ·world [earth].
He does not become tired or ·need to rest [weary].
No one can ·understand [fathom; comprehend] how great his ·wisdom [knowledge] is.
29 He gives strength to those who are tired
and more power to those who are weak.
30 Even ·children [youths; young people] become tired and ·need to rest [weary],
and young ·people [men] ·trip and fall [fall in exhaustion].
31 But the people who ·trust [hope in; wait on] the Lord will become strong again.
They will rise up ·as an eagle in the sky [L with wings like eagles];
they will run and not ·need rest [grow weary];
they will walk and not ·become tired [T faint]. Isaiah 40 EXB

Remember yesterday’s prayer? Remember Ephesians 1:17 asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you ·a spirit of wisdom[or spiritual wisdom; or the Spirit of wisdom] and revelation so that you will know him better? We cannot be strong in our own strength. We cannot muster enough to endure these life’s trials alone. His Spirit! His Spirit can give you the strength and wisdom.

I pray that Christ will ·live [make his home] in your hearts by faith and that your life will be ·strong in love and be built on love [L rooted and grounded in love].

 And I pray that you and all ·God’s holy people [T the saints] will have the power to ·understand[comprehend; grasp] the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is.

Remember Standing on the Promises of God? Paul’s prayer, Paul’s petition on our behalf reverberates through the entire Bible. His love.

11 As high as the ·sky [heaven] is above the earth,
so great is his ·love [loyalty] for those who ·respect [fear] him [Prov. 1:7].
12 He has taken our ·sins [transgressions] away from us
as far as the east is from west.
13 The Lord has ·mercy [compassion] on those who ·respect [fear] him [Prov. 1:7],
as a father has ·mercy [compassion] on his children. Psalm 103 EXB

8 The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts.
Your ways are not like my ways.
9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts [Ps. 103:11]. Isaiah 55 EXB

And today, before I sign off,

Thankfuls

285. Thankful for Noah’s curriculum for high school.

286. Thankful for the gift of belly aching laughter.

287. Thankful for the splint in my mouth, that keeps the migraines at bay.

Today, friends, stand on His promises! Repeat them over and over.

Christ’s love is ·greater than anyone can ever know [beyond comprehension/knowledge], but I pray that you will be able to know that love. ·Then [L …so that] you can be filled with the fullness of God.

Be filled. Pray on. Pray on.

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., http://www.hellomornings.org/, Old Testament, Pictures from commons..., Thankfuls | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The blessing


Ephesus, view from the Marble Road Photo by Radomil 21:31, 30 November 2005

Good morning, beloved,

I have allowed the cares of this world to overwhelm me. I have been working on my own strength so much of the time. Last night, it finally dawned on me. Oh, how I hate that I have been suffocating under the weights of this world. I have this image in my mind this morning of swimming under water and waiting to come up for air until the last second. As I burst forth from the water, I breath in deeply and quickly. This morning, I am breathing deeply. I begin my day with thanksgiving.

281. I’m so thankful for Daniel, so thankful he talks to me, asks me to play games, still asks for hugs, still.

282. I’m thankful for football for Noah. He is coming alive with the discipline.

283. I’m thankful for Luke and his amazing ability to make people laugh. Me too.

284. I’m thankful for Ella, how she cares for her two dolls, brushing their hair, listening to books, peacemaker.

As I try to take apart each care and concern, I am vastly aware of my inadequacies to stand alone.  We were never meant to walk alone. It’s interesting. I didn’t even realize it until I looked back with the Lord at the telltale signs. Frustration mounts. Anger. You know what? I’m tired of these responses. I feel like my kids when they tell me that an undesirable action will never happen again. I want perfection in me! Lies, lies, lies.

17 If the Lord had not helped me,
I would have ·died in a minute [L quickly dwelled in silence].
18 I said, “·I am about to fall [L My feet totter],”
but, Lord, your ·love [loyalty] ·kept me safe [steadied/supported me].
19 ·I was very worried [L In my many disquieting thoughts in my insides],
but you comforted me and ·made me happy [cheered me up]. Psalm 94 EXB

The loyalty of His love, His comfort, His help…only can God love me like that, always. If not? I would have quickly dwelled in silence.

16 I ·have not stopped [never cease] giving thanks to God for you. I always remember you in my prayers, 17 asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you ·a spirit of wisdom[or spiritual wisdom; or the Spirit of wisdom] and revelation so that you will know him better. 18 I pray also that ·you will have greater understanding in your heart [L the eyes of your heart may be enlightened] so you will ·know [comprehend] the hope to which he has called us and that you will know ·how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised [the riches of his glorious inheritance for; or the glorious wealth of an inheritance that God possesses in] ·his holy people [T the saints].19 And you will know that God’s power is ·very [exceedingly; overwhelmingly] great for us who believe. That power ·is the same as [or was demonstrated in] the great strength. Ephesians 1 EXB

 I ·have not stopped [never cease] giving thanks to God for you. I always remember you in my prayers…

I wonder if the Ephesians ever frustrated Paul. Did he ever feel like banging his head against a wall? It’s hard to bang your head against a wall while giving thanks. It is hard to stay frustrated when in your prayers you are always praying. The ones who give you grief? Pray.  The ones who just get you? Pray. Give thanks. Give thanks for God’s plan in our lives. Plan that includes people. Just sayin’.

…asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you ·a spirit of wisdom[or spiritual wisdom; or the Spirit of wisdom] and revelation so that you will know him better.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our access to God. He is our glorious Father. To those who have father wounds, He is your glorious Father. To those who don’t think God could ever forgive them or love them, the Lord Jesus Christ made a way. To those who have lost their way, to those who need to come up for air, there is a way.  A way back home.

Paul cries out to the Lord praying that we would be given a spirit of wisdom. We are wise about spiritual, not in our own strength, but only through the gift of the Holy Spirit. I cannot look at my life and pretend to understand all He is doing. My attempts at understanding, my cries for help so often come from a very focused look at my circumstances.

Jesus Calling Trust

That, my friends, is wisdom talking. Our view of our life, our trials, our worries, even our joys must be filtered through the lens of trusting Him.

 I pray also that ·you will have greater understanding in your heart [L the eyes of your heart may be enlightened] so you will ·know [comprehend] the hope to which he has called us…

Lord, I have cried out for understanding. I have cried out for wisdom. Save us, Lord! Rather, I wonder if my prayer needs to switch. Lord, help me to understand, to comprehend the hope! Understand in greater detail the hope  

(7) Eph 1:18, “the hope of His (God’s) calling,” i.e., the prospect before those who respond to His call in the Gospel; Greek Lexicon blb.org

Have you responded to His call? His call found in Jesus?

…that you will know ·how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised [the riches of his glorious inheritance for; or the glorious wealth of an inheritance that God possesses in] ·his holy people [T the saints].

His blessings..rich and glorious..our inheritance…does it ever seem like those blessings seem too far away? They are not. They are so close, they are a breath away. And we cannot even imagine it all, it is too great a mystery. So, in the midst of the strain, in the midst of the concern, what if our focus trains on the cry to know, to understand deep in our hearts the blessing.

And you will know that God’s power is ·very [exceedingly; overwhelmingly] great for us who believe. That power ·is the same as [or was demonstrated in] the great strength…

Lord, I want to know God’s power. Your exceedingly, overwhelmingly will is very great. You can handle all that concerns me today. You can overcome my weakness. To trust in You, to find my hope in You, I cling to You.

Ephesus, theater Photo by Rita1234

Life is a breath. Looking at these pictures of the ruins of Ephesus reminds me. Today is a gift. It was what I have been given. I dedicate this day to You.

Pray on. Pray on.

Categories: Bible teaching | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letters


Good morning, beloved,

Slangkop Lighthouse, near Kommetjie, South Africa. .Photo by Dewet

I received a letter recently. I love receiving letters, handwritten. Isn’t there something just lifting to open the mailbox and receive something other than bills and advertisements? I try keep all my letters. I have a stack of letters in my closet from when I was in college. I remember when I was little being so excited to receive letters from my Grandma. She would send me cute little cards and for certain holidays like Valentine’s day I would get a dollar. That was cool. My brother, when he was very little, sent a card back to my Grandma with a dollar bill for her. He was so thankful for the money she had always sent him so he wanted to return the favor.

Thank you notes, invitations, love letters, newsletters, etc.,  all contain a stated purpose.  Notice, in each, you will find greetings. Maybe a small blessing upon you. Maybe a reminder of what you mean to the writer. As Paul opens his letter to the Ephesians, he begins with his hope for them, for you.

Ephesians 1: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace (charis), Paul craves for [his] readers the favor (grace) of God…to which all blessings, esp., spiritual are due. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, blb.org) May I just share something with you? I long to know His grace, long to understand the favor bestowed upon me because of Jesus, I long to remember in times of great trial, He is the author of all blessings. Paul craves. Think about the last time you craved something. For me, there are times I crave time alone. Crave some food or dessert. It becomes a center focus. I think more about that craving than anything else. So Paul had a singular mind to guide the beloved to understand the grace extended. I wish I could say I crave things like this. How about you?

Peace (eirēnēof Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.

Remember that song, Peace Like A River? I’ve got peace like a river (repeat, repeat, repeat), in my soul. We would sing this with motions, but I don’t know that I ever connected, as a child, with the idea of His peace flowing through me like a river.

Elwy River, Cefn. Photo: Francis Bedford (1816-1894), 1860s.

Can you connect with the idea of His peace? His tranquility. Paul longed for his readers to grasp the peace available.

Ephesians 3: 4 ·If you read what I wrote then [or By reading this], you can see that I truly understand the ·secret [mystery] ·about [or revealed by; or that consists of; L of] ·Christ [or the Messiah].5 ·People [L The sons of men; C a Hebrew way of referring to people] who lived in other ·times[generations] were not told that secret. But now, through the Spirit, God has ·shown [revealed] that secret to his holy apostles and prophets. 6 This is that ·secret [mystery]: that through the ·Good News [Gospel] the Gentiles ·will share with the Jews in God’s blessing [L are co-heirs]. They belong to the same body, and they share together in the promise that God made in Christ Jesus.

Paul was revealing part of the mystery of Christ! Truly! We (the Gentiles, now Jews) share in God’s blessings. We are co-heirs. We are joined together because of the promise in Christ Jesus.

This is why we need to be on the floor praying diligently for our brothers and sisters in Israel.

Ephesians 4: 12 ·Christ gave those gifts to prepare [L …to equip]God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger.

To equip, a fitting or preparing fully. We have been given all we need to encourage one another through serving. And why do we have these gifts? To bring glory to ourselves? Nah, we are to make the body of Christ stronger. Do you get the sense that Paul longs for unity among the believers? Why? I don’t think it is just to encourage and uplift one another, but to be a community that welcomes those who do not know Jesus. People would crave to know the grace and peace that lives in us!

Ephesians 6:19 Also pray for me that when I ·speak [L open my mouth], God will give me words so that I can tell the ·secret [mystery] of the ·Good News [Gospel] ·without fear [confidently; boldly]. 20 ·For this Good News […for which] I am an ambassador in ·prison [L chains; 3:1]. Pray that I will speak ·it [or for him;or in him] ·without fear [boldly; confidently], as I should.

This prayer that Paul asked to be prayed on his behalf? Yea, that needs to be our prayer. That when we open our mouths we will speak the Good News. Boldly.

Bold Peak, in the Chugach Range of Alaska, as seen from a hanging valley below Thunderbird Peak. Photo by Paxson Woelber

We run with endurance the race set before us! Thank God we have the letters of Paul! Thank God Paul was given this gift of letter writing. Each is precious to  our faith and hope. We can hold tight to the promises found in Ephesians and I look forward to continuing to unwrap Ephesians!

Thankfuls:

278. As I work through this book, I am following a book called Glorious Grace by Lara Williams. So thankful for her guidance.

279. Thankful for time by a lake yesterday with my friend.

280. Thankful that God give beauty for ashes.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., http://www.hellomornings.org/, New Testament | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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